Film: Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Juhi Chawla, Madhumalti Kapoor, Regina Cassandra, Abdul Quadir Amin, Brijendra Kala, Seema Pahwa, Abhishek Duhan
Director: Shelly Chopra Dhar
Rating: * * ½
This film by debutant Director Shelly Chopra Dhar tries to give the typical Rajshri family saga a twist of new-age reality but it all seems too superficial and showy to ring true. Typical of Bollywood mainstream cinema, the usual drama does get hyper and the emotions, all over the place, before the young woman at the center of it all, finds her way into same-sex heaven. A touchy subject which could literally destroy families, but here Shelly and her team choose to sway gently against the tide without causing irreparable rifts. The veneer of glitz and romance keeps the grit and realism at bay though.
If the title makes you nostalgic for 1942: A love story, rest assured it’s a deliberate ploy to get you ensnared. The story though is not about a period boy-girl romance set in the backdrop of the freedom struggle. This one is a modern love story that bares open its secret heart to the astringent criticism of near and dear ones.
But it all comes a little too late to make it seem monumental. The twists and turns segmented into a faux romance makes it doubly irritating. Shelly Chopra Dhar and screenwriter Gazal Dhaliwal fashion in typical Punjabi rambunctiousness into the proceedings while galvanising a referendum for same-sex love. It’s essentially a severely cleaned-up version that never raises unexpected questions or feels free to explore sexual proclivities of the protagonist. Targeted at the family audience, this film hopes to gain acceptance by papering over warts and looking fanciful rather than real in a bid to bring in a universal acceptance of non-conformist romantic preferences.
As the story goes, a young woman, Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) must contend with tradition, family pressure to get married and a persistent suitor, Sahil Mirza (Rajkummar Rao) whom she bumps into at a theatre in Delhi, before she can find a way to what her heart secretly desires.
While the ensuing so-called progressive, break-out fracas is entertaining, the mode adopted is entirely stereotypical and conspicuously melodramatic. The ‘acceptance’ drama also, comes a little too easy. The film does spend some runtime trying to explore the young woman’s psyche but because of the contrivance meant to delay the revelation, it feels long-drawn and ineffective. This is by no means a sensitive or deep portrayal of a largely unacceptable love. Also, the songs, music, performances, and direction are too regular to be distinctive. This film feels more like just another fashionable ‘cause celebre’ that filmmakers cling-on to when the familiar family drama formula begins to pall.